The year 2020 will forever be etched in my memory as the year I gained clarity about the one question that stumps many people when they are asked. Often the response requires some depthness of thought followed by a searching for the appropriate response. It is this question “Who are you?” or “Who am I?”
I had lived at that point in 2020, thirty-six years on earth, so why the need to now have clarity? A few years prior I was certain of what my purpose in life was so why this question again?
It was a devastating year for many. I saw and felt the pain of coworkers, the disturbance in voices on social media and in my circles echoing the uncertainties of life. Personally, I walked the journey of grief three times over; a journey which ended with me questioning who I was. My earthly father, my grandmother, and my grandaunt all passed away within months of each other. My suffering wasn’t different from what many humans in the world were going through at the time; however, my experiences of such sufferings were different. They were unique only to me. And at the end of that year, I knew there was a place I was further being called to.
I have worked with women, helped women and girls overcome life difficulties and challenges in relationships with others, so this next step shouldn’t be foreign to me, right? But it was. Have you ever been caught in a place where you believe it is exactly where you are supposed to be but at the same time feel out of place, unsure how to exist in that space?
Yep, that was me. I felt in my heart, this work of transforming hearts and renewing minds wasn’t an undertaking I could complete without the necessary steps to gain the knowledge, skills, and capabilities required. Here’s the catch, I have had a fulfilling career that spans almost twenty years and now God was asking me to what? Leave and cleave to what? I knew I was already cleaving to Him but now, I had to leave my career and do what? Build businesses, go back to school to be trained as a therapist, be a wife, be a mom, be a leader… You are asking for a lot here God. That’s what I quipped to myself in December of 2020.
By Fall 2021, I was seated in a class on Social Justice. I gained admission into Mercer University’s Marriage and Family Therapy program with a year of some scholarship support and a life about to be ‘upended’. So I thought! I didn’t know what I had just walked into. I was hopeful, yet unsure how I would be able to manage all the roles and responsibilities in my life. I was crazy doing this. But my husband signed on. My kids signed on. God signed on… Ok, I will dive and swim (although swimming in real life is another story). So here I was, after a whirlwind of interviews, application process, orientation, here I was embarking on another Masters degree, in a field totally opposite my educational track since high school. Yep, this is about to be mayhem (in probably a great way because all things do work together for the good of those who love the Lord, and are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28)
I’m in Lord. I am here.
And so began the crisis in my identity. I know who I am. I am a child of God. I have been set FREE. The Spirit of God dwells in me and knowing the Truth has set me FREE. So why do I wake up every day with this tug, this conflict in my heart? And on Mondays when I approach my Social Justice class, why am I processing the concepts in this class through the Word of God? And having numerous conversations in my mind about stuff that I can't seem to wrap my head around…? And how about being asked this question (not once but twice) “why secular therapy training?” What? I hadn’t even thought about that and yet the more I processed it, the more I understood what these individuals meant.
That was the conflict I had been feeling in my heart and mind. What I believed in my core was being challenged…
“I want to be my authentic Christian girl self in this class and not come off weird!!! I want to speak and normalize saying ‘God’ in my statements without feeling judged and put in a box”. Talk about being ‘privileged’ as a Christian but yet feeling like you don’t belong. If you've ever been 'labeled' in any terms by society, you have some privilege, you have some power, and yet, you have some oppressive feelings.
Every time I asked a curious question or offered my perspective, I walked away thinking “oh the odd one out, no one will want to get close to you now…you will not be accepted here Kate” and so on!I needed therapy! Yep, therapists need therapy too. So I took my confusion within my spirit-self and my soul-self to the one place I knew sense could be made - the Holy Bible. Some process life through the lens of the world (worldly view), some through the lens of self (self view), and some through the lens of God (godly view). I always choose the latter because I have lived a life and processed life through the first two views and I don’t want that! There was always this searching and wanting for something that my Spirit couldn’t ever be fed or satisfied with.
"You are experiencing an identity evolution." That's what the Holy Spirit whispered to me. An identity evolution of letting go of the parts about my nature that causes me to live bound by perfection, expectations and standards of man over God's, longing for acceptance and likeness, needing to belong… The parts of me that felt comfortable yet 'strivingly' stale…
It was time for me to step into grace and FREEdom and to exist in this new space with the authenticity of the ‘label’ Christian in a secular school. I must be ok with that without feeling the need to fit in OR think I have to conduct myself a certain way, accept things I do not agree with or pretend to understand when I don’t understand. It was time for me to always remember that “before I was formed in my mother’s womb, God knew me. And before I was born, He set me apart, appointed me as a prophet to the nations” Jeremiah 1:5
This identity evolution is not denying myself of the pleasures of life. It is denying myself of the pleasures of the world that would consume my heart and mind and make me reliant on things and people that shift and change. This evolution is embracing fully, a process that allows me to live on purpose, live with intentionality, work with excellence, thrive in obedience, embrace the fullness of surrender, understand the essence of any sufferings, share the joys and hope of Christ, reach across and love from a place of purity and truth, and help another suffering heart and mind heal. This identity evolution is me finally embracing the next step in my journey fully alive in Christ, no longer afraid of what others may think about me when I present myself. It is by the standards of God that I have been transformed and healed and still healing from my past. He has been my counselor and therapist and I will be damned if that core of me stays silent!
When I look back on the last one year, all I see is growth and maturity in my world view, my self view and godly view. And I choose to be grounded in the godly view because that is where pure love flows from, no judgment, no pretense, no critiquing, no fakery; just allowing what I have experienced from God to flow through me to others. And those who want to receive me, accept me, and embrace me, would. The Holy Spirit whispered “there is no imposter syndrome Kate, if you believe that this is where you have been called and chosen to be, if you accept your place and make it your own, and if you embrace the journey by learning to release what has been, then you can walk into all the spaces to come knowing you belong”. Yessssss! I accept, I embrace, I release!
Identity crisis. Every human will experience such at a certain point in their life. Identity evolution. Every human must evolve to grow and achieve that which is possible and impossible. My path to this awareness was through a godly view, but yours might be different. Whatever tangent you find yourself on to center yourself, calm the storms in your mind, and clear up the confusion from life’s busyness, remember to hold on to your core, your foundations. So that as you evolve, your core remains unhindered…unapologetically.
I wouldn’t have it any other way because the past year has led to many beautiful experiences which are still unfolding… But here’s the funny part…this has always been me at the core; call it Holy Spirit training meets secular therapy training. I just needed therapy with God to realize that it is ok to be unique and it is ok for my identity to evolve into a more peaceful joy-filled river of ever flowing blessings. I just needed to figure out this new space and place He has called me to. So, cheers to this Christian girl in “secular therapy training” becoming an amazing Heart and Mind Healer.
Until next time, bask in the goodness and faithfulness of God.
Yours in FREEdom,